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was at the white house today, trying to reach an agreement to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars of tax increases and spending cuts. no statement is expected anytime soon. we go live now to washington to war correspondent, ben. >> all of the participants at this meeting left without a word. i don't think we will hear from them the rest of the day. there is a great deal at stake and very little time left. it has been reported that president obama presented a plan to increase taxes on income over a quarter million dollars per year, as part of the deficit reduction plan to deal with american debt. he would probably say to the congressional leaders that need to figure out a way to get it through, but i think the expectations in washington of a deal are low with only three, four days left until the new year and the media tax hikes and spending cuts taking and -- kicking in. >> that means perhaps heading back into recession? >> yes, there is little doubt in washington about the seriousness of the sick jubilation. the problem is withdrawing government demand from the economy too big spending p
and higher taxes and spending cuts will automatically take effect. president obama has cut short his holiday to revive the talks. >> if we go over this cliff, the house of representative with four days left are not here with the speaker having told him that he will have 458 hours' notice. i cannot imagine their conscience out there wherever they are around the country and we are trying to get something done. >> why is the american economy teetering on the edge of the cliffs? these are some of the things that president obama is trying to prevent with the return to the lighthouse. an employment has fallen to a four year low and currently stands at 7.7%. no deal could mean 2.1 million jobs disappearing parent to it would equate to a contraction of 1.5% in the value of all goods and services america producers meaning less money to afraid with the rest of the world. as far as the republicans concerned, there is that we will not give you a blank check. >> mitch mcconnell, the republican leader in the senate, said that he thought there was still time to avert what he called a budgetary fiscal crisi
to go until this potentially damaging combination of tax increases and spending cuts goes into effect, but so far, the politicians seem no closer to averting the plunge. president obama is pressing for action. he had this to say just a few minutes ago. >> i just spoke to speaker boehner and i also met with senator reid. i have asked the leaders of congress to prevent tax hikes on middle-class americans, protect unemployment insurance for 2 million americans, and lay the groundwork for further work. that is an achievable goal. that can get down in 10 days. >> president obama there on the upcoming fiscal cliff. joining me now to discuss the standoff is the bbc's ben wright. thank you very much. was there anything in the president's speech that would give us any cause for optimism that is the cliff can beat averted? >> i thought his tone was interesting. he was optimistic an exasperated at the same time. he reminded people in congress they only have 10 days left to find a deal before there's this huge hike in taxes and cuts in spending. he said a deal of some sort is an achievable goal.
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